Going out and meeting with customers on a daily basis, I get to learn a lot about other contractors and problems that customers have with them. One common theme that comes up when I am talking to homeowners is that they went with the lowest bid and ended up paying more in the end and not getting the job they wanted. Here are a couple of tips when getting estimates from painting contractors:
- Good communication on the first visit. This is so important and it is like an interview process, you want to be a good fit for both you and the contractor. If you feel comfortable, invite them in, sit them down, and ask questions. If you are going to give this person hundreds or thousands of your dollars to do painting work on your home, don’t you want to feel comfortable about it? Here are a few sample questions to ask a contractor.
- Are you licensed, bonded and insured? Do you carry workers compensation?
- Do you drug test your employees?
- Do you or your guys show up on time? Will you pull off the job to do another job? What happens if the job does take longer than your quoted time?
- Are your guys qualified to do the work?
- What type of materials do you use? Do I have to order the materials?
- What type of warranty do you offer?
When you ask some of these questions, you might find out why this certain contractor is less expensive than others. I heard this quote the other day: “All people are created equal, but not every contractor is.” That is so true.
2.) Check up on every contractor that gives you a bid. Ask for references and check up on those references and make sure it’s not their grandmother or spouse on the other end. You want testimonies from real customers. Check the California State License Board if they have workers compensation and liability insurance. When I say that going with the low bid might cost more at the end, I’m not kidding. If your contractor falls on your property and he or she doesn’t have a license or doesn’t carry workers compensation, the one who will be liable and paying for medical bills is the customer. Check up on your contractor, it will save you money if anything were to happen.
3.) Carefully review the contract. Check to see if everything that you wanted to be done is in the contract. Because guess what, if it’s not in the contract, it’s not going to be done. Change orders are a big part of the “cheapest bid” routine. All the things that were not in the contract suddenly add up to be a bigger bill in the end. Remember to check who is paying for the materials? Customers that are going with a low bid sometimes don’t understand that they will be buying the materials, which could cost a lot of money and a lot of their time.
These series of questions and research are very important if you need to call out a contractor. The bottom line is that people sometimes hire the “cheapest bid.” Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not. Based on what I’ve heard, people who hire the “cheapest contractor” typically will spend more money and time buying materials, making punch-list, following up on the jobs, managing the jobs, and having the job take much more time than expected. A small, less expensive contractor just cannot provide the value of a more established painting company. Call a couple of your local professional contractors; it could save you money.
New Life Painting is a full-service painting contractor serving San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and other Central Coast communities. Read the New Life company promise here.